July 10, 2024
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Yigal Gross, Member of the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee

My name is Yigal Gross. I am a Teaneck resident and a member of the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee.

I am not here to address the board or the superintendent. I tried that. Thousands of fellow residents did, too. Unfortunately, here we all are.

So, instead, I want to address my neighbors, the people who make Teaneck great.

This is not who we are. We are better than this.

This is not about private schools versus public schools, Jews versus non-Jews, or Israelis versus Palestinians.

This is about believing that Teaneck is only as good as its schools, and that strong public schools are the beating heart of our democracy and any good community, and that even those who do not utilize them should care about them.

This is about coming together as a community because it is our responsibility to ensure that the American dream is reachable for the people we love most—our children. It is about believing that all of Teaneck’s children, regardless of their race, religion or national origin, are all of our children.

This is about seeing beauty in our diversity. About believing that schools where every child can feel safe, get a great education, have (hopefully) winning sports teams and awesome extracurricular activities are fundamental to maintaining that diversity.

This is about recognizing that our elected officials are, currently and very unfortunately, failing themselves and all of us—giving us cowardice instead of leadership, confusion instead of clarity and divisiveness instead of unity.

It is about believing that the diverse, educated and just plain wonderful town that is Teaneck deserves better. About believing that all of us can be better.

We don’t want kids holding divisive marches on school property during school hours—not for Israel, Palestine, Zanzibar or the Philippines. We don’t want kids skipping class to hear random people call America “the most racist country on earth.” And we certainly don’t want any kids staying home because they are afraid to go to school; or to hear of any students being threatened. Not here. Not in our town.

We need to come together. All of us. Our children need us. Our schools need us. We need each other. Making our public schools great is our communal priority. Our schools should make us proud. And we need to work together to ensure they do.

The Bergen County Jewish Action Committee is actively working on solutions, and stands ready to partner with any communal groups, parents and students willing to join us in this effort. We have our differences, but our kids’ future should unite us.

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